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By Keith Farren
There are several classic car museums in South Carolina that cater to very different genres of the classic car enthusiast. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum in Darlington, SC pays tribute to historic NASCAR race cars and drivers. The BMW Zentrum near Spartanburg SC features BMW vehicles from the past and gives a glimpse into the future. The Wheels Of Yesteryear Museum in Myrtle Beach showcases classic American muscle cars.
The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum started life as the Joe Weatherly Stock Car Museum in memory of the famous driver that won there in 1960 and 1963, and was killed in an accident at Riverside speedway in 1964. The museum was dedicated in May of 1965, and the name was changed following a major renovation and expansion in 2003. The museum of course features many cars with NASCAR historical significance, including the "winningest car in stock car history", a 1956 Ford Convertible that won a total of twenty-five races that year, Richard Petty's 1967 Plymouth that won ten races in the 1967 season, and the 1991 Lumina that Darrell Waltrip rolled eight times in one of the worst crashes in NASCAR history. The museum has a number of engines on display, including an example of the famous Chrysler Hemi that dominated many races in the late 1960s and early 1970s. There are many interactive displays, and even an impression of Dale Earnhardt's hands in concrete. The Darlington Raceway Stock Car Museum is a must-see for any NASCAR fan. (843) 395 - 8821
The BMW Zentrum has a very different focus. It is a snapshot of BMW history, from the very beginning of the company to where they are today. Located beside the only BMW manufacturing plant in the United States, the museum is 20,000 square feet of historic cars and motorcycles, aircraft engines, and interactive displays. It features the BMW Isetta "Bubble Car", BMW race cars, a James Bond movie car, a virtual plant tour in the state-of-the-art video-production theater with surround sound, and a café. You can view an example of one of the first BMW automobiles ever produced, the BMW Dixie, as well as a display of the company's work with hydrogen fueled cars. Guided tours of the manufacturing plant are normally available by reservation, but as of this writing the plant tours have been temporarily suspended. (864) 989-5297
The Wheels Of Yesteryear Museum just opened in September 2009 and features over 45 fully restored automobiles from the collection of Paul Cummings. The cars are displayed on a rotating basis from his 100-plus car collection of primarily Mopar muscle cars, with a few classic GM, Ford and AMC vehicles thrown in to the mix just for fun. The museum displays examples of the famous Mopar winged cars and nostalgia drag racers, too. (843) 903 - 4774
No matter what type of classic automobiles you are interested in, South Carolina has a museum for you. Be sure to call ahead for operating hours and holiday schedules before making the trip.
If classic cars are your thing, you will be interested in two of my websites. Classic Car Financing and Loans has information on what to look for in a classic car loan, as well as tips on choosing a classic car insurance company and a directory of the most popular companies that specialize in classic car insurance. Classic Car Prices Today has a directory of the best places to get accurate and reliable pricing information for classic, antique, and collector vehicles.
Keith Farren is an ASE Certified Master Technician with a BS in Business Administration, an Associate degree in Automotive Technology, and over twenty years experience in the automotive industry.
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